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Every Interaction Doesn’t Count —the Same

by Hank Barnes  |  April 18, 2013  |  2 Comments

I am as big an advocate for customer experience as anyone, so the first part of the title of this post may have caused you to do a double-take.  But I am starting to get a little frustrated with the hyperbole around interactions.

I can’t count the number of times I hear people say things like “Every Interaction Counts”, “Screw up once and you’ll be blasted on Facebook, Twitter, and every other social media channel known to man”.   The problem with these statements is that the imply that you have to be perfect  or your brand could be ruined.

Guess what, nobody’s perfect.  And, you can screw up—its how you recover that counts (and probably counts more than the screw up).  This is particularly true for technology companies, since I don’t think there has ever been technology that is 100% bug free.

If you can take a step back from the fear messages, your perspective can shift.

Gartner’s definition of customer experience is:

“”The customer’s perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, systems, channels or products.”

So every interaction does count, but the reality is that they don’t count the same.  Some interactions have a bigger impact on perceptions and feelings than others.  These are the ones that matter most.  Call these Moments of Truth or something else, the key is to recognize when you are in a situation that is going to be memorable for the customer and do everything you can to make it great.   If something goes wrong, how you respond to address the issues may create an even bigger opportunity for emotional connections.

A bad interaction represents a fork in the road.  How you react really defines the ultimmate perception.  I’ve had horrible experiences (a gourmet cupcake shop losing my order for a big birthday party for my wife) turned around by the reaction of the owner (gave me alternative cupcakes for free and gift certificates for future purchases). I’ve also had bad experiences (with airlines, naturally) made worse by corporate policies (the social monitoring team offering to help, but saying they couldn’t since I had already started a complaint on another channel).  Both were memorable and dramatically impacted my perception of the organizations.

As you work to improve customer experience, and potentially use it to differentiate your business, don’t get hung up on the need to be perfect.  Instead, train all your employees on ways to recognize key moments that will create emotional memories and empower them to do what is best for the customer in that situation.


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Category: go-to-market  

Tags: customer-experience  interaction  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Every Interaction Doesn’t Count —the Same

  1. Jim Watson says:


    I agree – not every interaction counts the same amount, just as not every customer counts the same amount. The reality is, some are more important to the business than others.

    A savvy business will invest more resources into those customers that offer greater revenue potential. Similarly, a savvy business will invest more resources into improving those “touchpoints” that have a greater relative impact on the brand and reputation.

    Not all customers are equal, and similarly, not all customer touchpoints are equal.

    Jim Watson
    Portland, Maine

  2. […] and recognizing moment of truth opportunities is more important than perfecting every aspect, every interaction of a customer […]

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